Cardinal Onaiyekan: Christians & Muslims must counter extremism together

by Deborah Castellano Lubov, Vatican News

In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Onaiyekan, Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, Nigeria, decries the stoning and burning alive of a Christian student as an example of a country suffering a scourge of bad government and insecurity, targeting Christians and Muslims alike.

Cardinal John Onaiyekan has expressed “outrage” for the gruesome murder of a Christian student in Nigeria, and has decried the rampant violence and extremism in the country against Christians, and also against Muslims.

In an interview with Vatican News, the Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja lamented the state of insecurity in the African country, attributing much of the unrest to bad governance and to fanatics, who give a bad name to the rest of nation’s pacific Muslim population.

In Northwestern Nigeria’s Sokoto State, a Christian student, Deborah Yakubu, was stoned to death and set on fire after Muslim students accused her of alleged blasphemy. Subsequently, as protests persisted demanding the release of two suspects in the student’s murder, a mob attacked the Holy Family Catholic cathedral in the Sokoto state.

Aid to the Church in Need decried the student’s murder and called the levels of extremism and violence in Nigeria as “absolutely appalling.” They noted that “hardly a week goes by without news of kidnappings and dozens of deaths,” but that “this barbaric act leaves us speechless.”

Frequently, Nigerians, including clergy, are abducted and killed. “The increase in kidnappings, murders and general violence against civilians, including members of the Catholic clergy in many parts of Nigeria, is a scourge that is yet to be properly addressed by the local authorities,” ACN reported.

In this interview, Cardinal Onaiyekan reflects on the tragedy, its roots, what can be done, and what is often misunderstood. He also looks ahead to Pope Francis’ 2-7 July visit to the African nations of Congo and South Sudan.

Read the full interview at Vatican News.